Throne of Blood

Throne of Blood

4.1 7
Director: Akira Kurosawa

Cast: Akira Kurosawa, Toshiro Mifune, Isuzu Yamada, Minoru Chiaki

     
 

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One of the most successful Shakespeare adaptations for the screen, Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood strips away Macbeth's minor characters and long soliloquies, turns the witch scenes into a strange supernatural encounter, and transforms the Scottish landscape into a misty visage of feudal Japan. Kurosawa masterfully…  See more details below

Overview

One of the most successful Shakespeare adaptations for the screen, Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood strips away Macbeth's minor characters and long soliloquies, turns the witch scenes into a strange supernatural encounter, and transforms the Scottish landscape into a misty visage of feudal Japan. Kurosawa masterfully employs style and composition to create a closed world in which the film's tragic outcome seems pre-ordained. Such visual motifs as fog, wind, and rain, juxtaposed with the austere interior of Washizu's castle, create an eerie, foreboding feel, while Kurosawa's use of stark blacks and whites, coupled with his persistent use of hard edits, seem to place the characters in stylistic confinement. Not unlike Michelangelo Antonioni's L'avventura (1960), Kurosawa uses repetition, such as the image of Washizu's emerging from the fog, to suggest the futility of the characters' actions. Rarely has a Kurosawa film been rendered with such bleakness. Throne of Blood is a visually brilliant, emotionally powerful masterpiece from one of the true masters of cinema.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Tony Nigro
In Throne of Blood, director Akira Kurosawa combines 15th-century samurai history with elements of Noh theater for a brilliant retelling of Shakespeare's Macbeth. The peerless Toshiro Mifune stars as Washizu, a decorated samurai who, along with his warrior friend Miki (Akira Kubo), encounters an evil spirit prophesying a change in the royal order -- specifically, Washizu will rule, followed by Miki's son. Despite his efforts to alter fate, Washizu is cajoled by his manipulative wife (Isuzu Yamada, in the Lady Macbeth role) into taking over the kingdom by force, a bloody act unleashing a brutal chain of events that eventually tears apart the kingdom. Like Kurosawa's Ran, his King Lear film made nearly three decades later, Throne of Blood uses the bare essentials of Shakespeare's drama to enact a grand history lesson on feudal Japan, replete with period costumes, intense melodrama, swarms of flying arrows, and, in this case, lush black-and-white cinematography. Aside from the always-charismatic presence of Mifune, what makes the film special is Kurosawa's integration of techniques based in Japan's traditional Noh theater. The bare sets, expressive soundtrack, and stylized performances enhance the story to a new level above that of play-on-film; the battle scenes are even expressionist in nature. The experience is best described not as a mere Shakespeare adaptation but as a sublime transposition.
All Movie Guide - Jonathan Crow
One of the most successful Shakespeare adaptations for the screen, Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood strips away Macbeth's minor characters and long soliloquies, turns the witch scenes into a strange supernatural encounter, and transforms the Scottish landscape into a misty visage of feudal Japan. Kurosawa masterfully employs style and composition to create a closed world in which the film's tragic outcome seems pre-ordained. Such visual motifs as fog, wind, and rain, juxtaposed with the austere interior of Washizu's castle, create an eerie, foreboding feel, while Kurosawa's use of stark blacks and whites, coupled with his persistent use of hard edits, seem to place the characters in stylistic confinement. Not unlike Michelangelo Antonioni's L'avventura (1960), Kurosawa uses repetition, such as the image of Washizu's emerging from the fog, to suggest the futility of the characters' actions. Rarely has a Kurosawa film been rendered with such bleakness. Throne of Blood is a visually brilliant, emotionally powerful masterpiece from one of the true masters of cinema.

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Product Details

Release Date:
08/25/2015
UPC:
0715515155212
Original Release:
1957
Rating:
NR
Source:
Criterion
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Full Frame]
Time:
1:49:00
Sales rank:
21,758

Special Features

Audio commentary featuring Japanese film expert Michael Jeck; Documentary on the making of the film, created as part of the Toho Masterworks series Akira Kurosawa: It Is Wonderful to Create; Two alternate subtitle translations, by Japanese film translator Linda Hoaglund and Kurosawa expert Donald Richie; Trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Toshiro Mifune Taketoki Washizu
Isuzu Yamada Asaji
Minoru Chiaki Yoshaki Miki
Takashi Shimura Noriyasu Odagura
Akira Kubo Yoshiteru
Takamaru Sasaki Kuniharu Tsuzuki
Yoichi Tachikawa Kunimaru
Chieko Naniwa Witch

Technical Credits
Akira Kurosawa Director,Editor,Producer,Screenwriter
Shinobu Hashimoto Screenwriter
Ryuzo Kikushima Screenwriter
Shojiro Motoki Producer
Yoshiro Muraki Art Director
Asakazu Nakai Cinematographer
Asaichi Nakai Cinematographer
Hideo Oguni Screenwriter
Masaru Sato Score Composer

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Throne of Blood
1. Opening Credits/Chorus [5:19]
2. Captains Washizu And Miki Triumph [4:09]
3. The Forest Maze [3:00]
4. A Prophecy [7:36]
5. Lost [4:49]
6. Prophecy Fulfilled [2:07]
7. Lord Washizu And Lady Asaji [4:52]
8. Ambush? [4:44]
9. Blood Of A Traitor [2:46]
10. High Treason [9:18]
11. Intruders! [1:08]
12. The Chase [5:56]
13. The Great Lord's Coffin [7:13]
14. An Heir [2:44]
15. Evil Omen [2:40]
16. An Unexpected Guest [9:33]
17. Stillborn [5:22]
18. Seeking Answers [5:20]
19. Rallying The Troops [6:17]
20. The Birds [3:00]
21. Madness [3:11]
22. The Forest Moves [6:55]
23. Chorus [1:33]
1. Color Bars [:20]
1. Noh Style/An Experiment [5:19]
2. Historical Context/Takashi Shimura [4:09]
3. Cut Pans/Master Horsemen [3:00]
4. Noh Influences/Mifune And Chiaki [7:36]
5. Fog [4:49]
6. 180-Degree Flip/Sashimonos [2:07]
7. Structure/Isuzu Yamada [4:52]
8. Adding Motivaton/Kurosawa's Women [4:44]
9. Seppuku [2:46]
10. A Parable Of Ambition [9:18]
11. The Alarm [1:08]
12. Kurosawa's Usual Style/Realpolitik [5:56]
13. Crossing The Line/Miki's Motivation [7:13]
14. No Loose Ends [2:44]
15. Horse Imagery [2:40]
16. Despair/Intentionalist Falacy [9:33]
17. A Disagreement With Olivier/Writing Credits [5:22]
18. Other Adaptations/"Guest Stars" [5:20]
19. Framing The Army/Yoshiro Muraki [6:17]
20. A Difficult Scene To Shoot [3:00]
21. "First Take" [3:11]
22. The Killing: How He Does It [6:55]
23. The Circle Closes [1:33]
1. Color Bars [:20]

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Throne of Blood 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Irving_Washington More than 1 year ago
Throne of Blood reminded me of just how clever Akira Kurosawa was with a camera. From the opening scene with the fog and the castle appearing, or the first scene with the evil spirit in the forest foretelling Washizu's and Miki's futures, Throne of Blood kept me entertained and creeped out more than a lot of modern films. This movie is all about ambience, sounds, and images that won't leave your mind for a long time. I can't think of much else to say. There really isn't anything bad to say about this film, other than Kurosawa really likes to show people being lost or riding horses. But, I can't complain. It all lends to the overall feel of the scene of the film as a whole.

One of my favorite of Kurosawa's gems.
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